Control the Spread of COVID-19: Get Tested

With cold weather moving activities indoors and holiday travel, the predicted winter surge of COVID-19 cases is occurring throughout the United States and many parts of the world. Although vaccines are now available, it will likely be many months before there is enough vaccine supply for the general population. Two main strategies have been shown to help control the spread: infection control measures and aggressive testing and contact tracing.  Areas of the world where these strategies have been followed have been successful in controlling the pandemic.

To keep our communities safe, we must all do our part in following infection control guidance. The primary way SARS-CoV-2 spreads is by respiratory droplets. By wearing masks that trap our own secretions and prevent us from breathing in other’s secretions, we significantly reduce the possibility of spreading the virus. Since masks may not stop all secretions, keeping a physical distance of 6 feet between yourself and others is an additional safety measure that we should follow. 

The virus can live on surfaces. Therefore, another potential way to infect ourselves is by touching a contaminated surface and then touching our eyes, nose, or mouth. Frequent hand washing/hand sanitizing and avoiding touching our faces keeps our hands clean and reduces the chance of infecting ourselves from contaminated surfaces. Important times to wash hands include: 

  • when coming home after being out in the community
  • before preparing food
  • before and after eating  

Although many people have had very severe disease with COVID-19 and there have been many deaths, the majority of people infected have only mild to moderate symptoms and many have no symptoms at all. Early in the outbreak it was thought that mild symptoms like runny nose, nasal congestion, and sore throat were not indicative of COVID-19, but now we know that the infection can present with a wide variety of symptoms that can easily be confused for many other respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses. 

Children, in particular, can have minimal symptoms that mimic the common cold or a “stomach flu.” The only way to truly know whether an illness is due to COVID-19 is to test for the virus. To continue to contain the spread of COVID-19, whenever someone experiences symptoms of illness, they should be tested for COVID-19. Anyone who has come into close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days and consider being tested four to seven days after exposure to see if they are infected. This aggressive testing strategy can help prevent the silent spread of COVID-19 in our communities and capture new infections before they can spread to people at risk for severe disease.  

If you or someone in your family develops symptoms of COVID-19 listed below, you should stay home and avoid contact with others in your household as much as possible. You should also contact your doctor to arrange for testing.  

Possible signs and symptoms of COVID-19:

  • fever
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • nasal congestion
  • sore throat
  • loss of taste or smell
  • shortness of breath
  • body aches
  • fatigue
  • headaches 
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea  

Until we have better treatments and vaccines available for everyone, we must adhere to the guidance above in order to keep our communities healthy and safe, and to avoid severe and stringent restrictions.

Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician.